Newcastle members


IEU members in the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese took to the streets in December for their second round of stop work action.

The protected industrial action is a result of a long running dispute with the diocese following the decision by the church to restructure the Catholic Schools Office.

The restructure has seen over 30 IEU members to date stripped of enterprise agreement coverage and forced onto new diocesan individual contracts, and there is a genuine fear that church representatives will force more members onto contracts in the next 12 months.

The restructure known as Many Parts, One Body, One Mission saw the introduction of a diocesan chief executive officer and the forced transfer of IEU members from the Catholic Schools Office to a new diocesan department know as Shared Services.

In reality the new CEO has used an administrative restructure to reduce employee entitlements and remove their right to collectively bargain.

The church teaches that bargaining should be conducted on a collective rather than individual basis to ensure equity and justice, but in the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese, the church is moving employees from collective agreements onto individual contracts against their wishes. The individual contracts offer less sick leave, less long service leave, less parental leave and the removal of leave loading.

It is understandable that union members would expect the church to uphold its own teachings and values.

IEU Rep Steve Newman said “we know the importance of collective bargaining in ensuring equitable outcomes, and so does the church. It is understandable that union members would expect the church to uphold its own teachings and values. Members have made it clear that they want to remain on an enterprise agreement and church representatives have continued to ignore their pleas."

Members employed as education officers, professional officers, psychologists and support staff have sought an assurance from the CEO that they will not be moved onto individual contracts during the three year life of the agreement.

Unfortunately the CEO has been unwilling to provide this guarantee, sending a clear message to members that their agreement will not be honoured for its entire duration.
IEU members recognise the importance of enterprise agreement coverage and have indicated that they will continue to hold the church accountable to its own teachings of justice, fairness and equity.

Therese Fitzgibbon